The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Shoot at will, world can wait

Whose road is it anyway' Everyone’s — from the rallywallah to the moviewallah — except the common citizen’s.

Calcutta Police, which hardly covered itself in glory during the rally row, gave the green signal for chaos on Thursday morning by allowing Mani Rathnam — placing reel reality above the real — to shoot some sequences of Yuva in front of Nilratan Sirkar Medical College and Hospital. This, when the rest of the city was trying to get to work.

The veteran director’s unit played traffic stopper again early in the evening, as a tramcar carrying Vivek Oberoi and Kareena Kapoor trundled along, from Fort William to Esplanade, throwing a few hundred fans into a tizzy. “Kareena, Kareena,” hollered the boys; “Vivek, Vivek,” shrieked the girls, as a police posse struggled to clear the crowds for the ‘star’ tram to pass.

But the afternoon had showed the evening, and some. The cameras rolled in front of NRS from 7 am to a little before 11 am, but it was well past noon before the entire Yuva gang left the spot and allowed normal traffic to flow. Traffic updates from Lalbazar on FM radio stations found police admitting that the prolonged shoot had made it “impossible” for them to manage office-hour traffic off Sealdah.

By the end of the day, outgoing deputy commissioner (headquarters) Kuldiep Singh was busy justifying the city’s traffic travails. “The film-makers have paid for the shooting,” he asserted. “It’s no one’s business but the police’s,” he added.

Those hitting the Bollywood block begged to differ. “Police officers have no business deciding when we must be stuck in traffic and stare at film stars and when we should go to work,” said college lecturer Sucharita Sen.

NRS doctors wondered how the police could be so insensitive. “Don’t they know that a film shoot here would disrupt traffic on a large stretch of AJC Bose Road-APC Road and could even jeopardise the life of a patient rushing to reach the hospital'” one of them asked.

Mayor Subrata Mukherjee, too, threw his hat into the road-royalty ring. “Roads belong to the Calcutta Municipal Corporation; who are the police to rent them out'”

For those stuck in the Thursday morning Sealdah snarl, all that mattered was that there had been no public intimation about the five-hour hold-up. Police said the site of the shoot was kept “secret” for “security reasons”.

Yuva spokesperson Subir Chandra, meanwhile, said the unit could not be blamed. “We went through the proper channels and were permitted to use a part of the pavement under the footbridge,” he clarified.

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